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19
FEB

Pompeo Heads to Saudi Arabia to Talk Iran, Other Key Issues

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Riyadh on Wednesday at a time of heightened tensions in the Middle East. Some issues on the agenda include tensions with Iran, the Trump administration's Mideast peace plan, the ongoing war in Yemen and human rights issues. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports the meetings take place at a time when both countries are recalibrating their approach to open regional matters and to their bilateral relations.
18
FEB

Assad Vows to Return All Rebel-Held Areas Under Damascus Control

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to defeat the opposition and retake all the areas still under the rebel control. Assad addressed the nation Monday as his army made gains against rebel forces and jihadists in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces in the northwest. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports the Syrian army seems ready to also clash with Turkish military forces supporting rebels in the region.
13
FEB

Iraqi Family Spends Quality Time Together at the Gym

An Iraqi Kurdish family spends time together like most others.  They gather almost every day and talk about their lives listening and learning from their parents.  But unlike most families, this larger-than-life clan meets away from home and away from the kitchen table.  VOA’s Arash Arabasadi muscles through this story.
10
FEB

Songs to Heal: Yazidi Refugees Revive 7,000-Year-Old Musical Culture

When the Islamic State terror group swept across northern Iraq in 2014, they tried to wipe out the Yazidi people, a minority ethnic group that had lived in the mountains for millennia. Thousands of men were killed, and women and girls forcibly enslaved. The ancient Yazidi culture was at risk of being eradicated. A new project aims to teach young Yazidis the ancient music of their ancestors and create a permanent record of the culture.  And as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the songs are helping the Yazidi to overcome the mental scars of their brutal treatment at the hands of Islamic State.
06
FEB

West Bank Palestinians Say Peace Further Away Than Ever

U.S. President Donald Trump’s recently announced Middle East peace plan calls for Israel to keep control over all of Jerusalem, with its Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. The plan envisions the capital of the Palestinian state in outlying suburban neighborhoods of Jerusalem such as Abu Dis, which is technically in the West Bank. Linda Gradstein reports for VOA from Abu Dis.
06
FEB

Italy ‘Complicit In Abuse’ Of Migrants Over Libya Deal, Say Human Rights Groups

Human rights groups have strongly criticized Italy for extending a deal with Libya that facilitates the return of migrants to detention centers, where these migrants say torture and rape are commonplace. The European Union has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Libya to boost its coastguard capabilities and clamp down on human smuggling - but critics say the money is ending up with criminal gangs. More from Henry Ridgwell
04
FEB

Iraq Protests: A View From 4 Diverse Cities

When the tear gas clears, and the chants and shouting become quiet, a bit of despair sometimes filters through protest camps occupying Iraq's city centers."At the beginning, more families came to the protests," said Ali Khafaji, 30, a volunteer medic and protester in Karbala, a sacred city to Shia Muslims about 100 kilometers south of Baghdad."But since the violence began, it is mostly just young men. People are disappointed."They are disappointed, he told us, because four months of calls for accountable government, equitable resource distribution and basic services like electricity, health care and education, have led to almost no change.  Ali Khafaji, center, a volunteer medic and protester, says demonstrations in Karbala, Iraq, will continue regardless of violent attempts to shut them down, Jan. 25, 2020. (H.Murdock/VOA)Their only option now, he says, is to keep protesting until their demands are met or they are forced out with violence. The deaths of protesters — roughly 600 counted so far — have yet to be investigated."They can burn our tents, and we will put up new ones," Khafaji said.
  Hopes from a distanceIn far-off Iraqi cities, young people of different religions and ethnicities also have pinned their hopes on these protests. Called the "largest anti-establishment movement" in Iraq's history, youth all over the country say they are rooting for the protesters fighting for what they say every Iraqi should already have.Abdulrahman, left, and his friend Ali say they agree with the protesters' demands but the streets of Mosul, Iraq, are too volatile to stage protests, Jan. 29, 2020. (H.Murdock/VOA)"When I went to the protests, I saw a future," said Abdulrahman, a 22-year-old engineering student in Mosul, who joined the protesters in Baghdad for three days last fall, as he and his friend, Ali, sat at a table studying for exams in a Mosul cafe.Mosul is in the north of Iraq and Islamic State militants ruled the city with brutal violence only a few years ago. The militants' rule in Mosul ended in a bloody nine-month-long war, and much of the city is still in rubble."I felt proud to be Iraqi for the first time in my life," Abdulrahman said. "Our capital is full of militias and corruption. Whatever happens next cannot be worse."
  Mosul  Since the protests began in October, many businesses in Iraq have grown poorer as people squirrel away money in case disaster strikes. Fears of renewed violence or government collapse are ...
04
FEB

Art Exhibit In Iraq Showcases Landmines, Victims

Explosive devices like landmines are uniquely deadly because in some cases they stay behind long after a conflict ends.  Their proliferation causes about 4,000 injuries and deaths every year according to the Minesweepers group. One artist is drawing attention to the problem in a unique exhibit in Northern Iraq. VOA’s Rebaz Majeed has more in this report.
30
JAN

In West Bank, Trump Mideast Deal Draws Both Optimism and Worry

President Trump's plan includes Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley, the long strip of land that runs between Jordan and the West Bank. It makes up almost a third of the entire West Bank, and is one of the world's main sources of dates. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians who live in the area know exactly what the so-called "deal of the century" will mean for the area, but Israelis are optimistic and Palestinians are worried. Linda Gradstein reports for VOA from the Jordan Valley.
30
JAN

Iraq Garment Factory Fosters Multi-Ethnic Female Workforce

A garment factory in the small town of Bartella - east of Mosul, Iraq - employs some 550 workers; most of whom are women. The town is known by locals as ‘Small Iraq’ because workers from different religions and ethnicities live here. But while a factory of mostly women is a mark of progress, there are still issues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.
29
JAN

Trump Unveils Middle East Plan

President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan at the White House Tuesday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side. The plan includes redrawing the map of the West Bank to favor Israel while offering Palestinians a conditional pathway to statehood. Palestinians have rejected the plan and called on Arab neighbors to boycott. White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara has the story.

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